“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey
“You have to be able to accept failure to get better.” – LeBron James
By Dawn Onley
Today, I am thankful for my failures. That may sound self-defeating, but it is not. I have come to appreciate my many missteps in life (not at the time, mind you, but eventually) because I have learned the costly lessons that those failures have taught and I have gained tremendous insight on who I am as a person and how I can be true to the best parts of me while working on the flaws.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Fresh out of college with “fool” apparently stamped on my forehead, I once rented a car for a “friend” who had bad credit. He was in the process of moving and he asked if I could rent him a car that he would use to move his stuff over the weekend. He said he would return the car first thing Monday morning.
I didn’t think any more of it. Although I had only known this person for about five months, I bought his hard luck story and trusted him at his word.
I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when the rental car company called me a few hours after the agreed upon return time on Monday, inquiring about when I would be bringing the car back.
“You mean the car wasn’t returned?” I asked, suddenly angst-ridden.
“No,” the attendant replied. “Wouldn’t you know whether you returned it?” he asked, incredulously.
“Uh, well, I let a friend use it and he said he would return it and …”
I called this guy and left messages on his home phone and his work phone but suddenly he wasn’t picking up. I felt sick. How could I have been so stupid? I was mad at myself because I knew better. How could I have not seen that his intent was to take advantage of my kindness?
I already knew the answer. My heart tends to believe the best in people until they give me a reason not to. Then the full magnitude of what’s transpiring hits my mind – and let me just tell you that when that happens, HELL HATH NO FURY.
I picked up that phone one last time, and this time, I left a message that he wouldn’t soon forget. I told him that he better bring that *bleeping* car back to the *bleeping* car rental place and that I had called the “bleeping” police and how dare he do this to me when I was just trying to help his “bleepedly bleep bleep bleep.”
The next morning when I called the car rental place, the attendant put me on hold. When he came back, he told me that the car had been returned over night.
That bama did end up calling me back, and of course he claimed that he always intended on bringing the car back but that the move took longer than he anticipated. He said he didn’t get the messages at work because he took off to move and he didn’t get the home messages because something was wrong with his phone, blah, blah, blah.
Funny how he got that last message.
Today, I’m grateful for that experience, as crazy as that sounds. I’m grateful that this lesson came early, at 22, instead of later. It taught me to never use my name or my credit to help get something for someone else again. It helped me to set limits with my friends. It helped me to stop calling people “friend” that weren’t tried and true. It helped me to pay closer attention to people and their motives.
I’m thankful that this failure in judgment didn’t end up a lot worse. I’m thankful for the lessons that mistakes have taught me.
Over and over again in life, I’ve failed. And this is why I succeed.